LA PAMELITA AND A LADY ON A MISSION!
CATALUÑA’S LLOBAN WINERY COMBINES
TRADITION AND INNOVATION
I haven’t met Pamela Geddes (yet) but I feel I know her. It seems to me that there are certain winemakers who have a signature wine, much like a chef will have his/her signature dish. One becomes familiar with the style of the ‘signature’ and therefore, by some sort of mystical symbiosis, with that of the author.
I first ‘met’ Pamela Geddes, a Scottish bio-physicist, no less, through her first Spanish signature wine – a red sparkling Monastrell, made under the auspices of Bodegas Castaño, DO Yecla. Regular readers will know of this innovative winery which boldly goes where others fear to tread.
I have had the great pleasure of visiting Bodegas Castaño many times (often with groups too) and on one occasion I was treated to a superb tasting of young wines made with their experimental varieties, imported from all over Spain and the wine world in general, to see how they will fair in Yecla soils, under Yecla’s harsh climate. DO Yecla now permits the use of Chardonnay in their white wines – you can guess that this is because of Castaño’s efforts.
Not surprising therefore that Pamela and Bodegas Castaño teamed up to make this innovative sparkling Monastrell red wine. I tasted and enjoyed the wine.
However, another opportunity opened up for Pamela – the chance to start her own winery in the cooler climate of Cataluña, home of Cava. Bodegas Lobban was born and Pamela’s signature took a slight turn, though remaining true to the ideal. Instead of Monastrell, another of the DO Penedés permitted varieties, Syrah/Shiraz, was used for her new red fizz.
Followers of wine trends may now, quite correctly, be following the Shiraz link to the Antipodes – in fact to Australia. It was the Aussies who first made sparkling wine with their darling variety, Shiraz, and, after ten years in the whisky trade, Pamela had moved to Australia where she became enamoured with this distinctive wine style. Red sparkling wine had arrived in Australia – but could it prove equally successful in the rather conservative Spain (in wine terms, at least)?
Well, judging by the medals and plaudits garnered by Pamela’s, La Pamelita Sparkling Shiraz, the answer is a resounding ‘Yes’!
Pamela kindly sent me samples of this wine and two others from her small portfolio of wines from Cataluña. I’m impressed – and I’m sure you will be too. If you can find them! (www.lapamelita.com for distributors/stockists).
La Pamelita manages to combine a certain Shiraz black pepper and dark brambly fruit robustness with the elegance that befits wines made in this, the home of Spanish sparkling wines. It’s a winning style as it enables the wine to be drunk with food as well as for fun!
It’s enjoyed 36 months en rima (in bottle with lees after its second fermentation) which adds depth to the flavour of the wine, an understated creaminess, and a complexity that is hard to find in many sparklers. Try it with BBQ meats as well as casseroles.
Another fizz, but this time a rosado made with Garnacha, is La Rosita Brut. I loved this wine! There’s a little (5%) Shiraz in the blend (which is fair as the La Pamelita has 5% Garnacha too!) and its had 24 months en rima. Though a mouthful of flavour, for sure, this wine is graceful too.
It’s a celebratory sparkling wine with a very pretty colour but enough body and depth of flavour to make it an ideal partner for paella as well as being lovely with fish of the same colour and white fish with sauces, and salads too. Aromas of loganberry and a very slight citrus element accompany those of the classic sparkling wine characteristic, bready/sweet pastry panaderia-esque notes. It’s definitely not just a wine for girls – rufty-tufty Aussie men would love it too!
It’s hard to say, but I think, if I’m allowed a little indulgence here, that ‘el gordito 2009’, though a still red wine, was actually my personal favourite – though it is an entirely subjective view, of course.
Garnacha grapes, hand harvested, make up 50% of the blend – the vines have seen 70 summers and are producing opulently rich fruit, whose influence transfers into the finished product – el gordito is a fruit driven wine. You might guess that the other 50% is from Shiraz vines, this time relatively young, which gives a certain brightness of colour when the wine is poured as well as a fresh palate-tingling vibrancy to the wine.
Like a modern day father/son wine-making relationship, where valuable tradition is augmented by fresh innovation, the two ‘halves’ of this wine form a perfectly harmonious whole. In addition, 25% of the blend spends time in medium toasted new and second use French barricas, which adds depth, complexity and additional mouth-feel and richness.
You’ll find some black olive and black pepper spice with subtle coconut whiffs blending famously with blackberry and blueberry notes on the nose and on the palate there’s just a touch of dark chocolate to add to those fruity flavours. Lovely wine and though the 2009 vintage, it’s still drinking perfectly.
Contact Colin: email@example.com and through his unique wine services website www.colinharknessonwine.com; plus you can follow Colin on Twitter @colinonwine for all the latest news about Spanish wine.